The Four Universal Promises of Leadership - Part 2

June 18, 2020 Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

In Part 1 of this series, I introduced you to a discussion about leadership and four universal promises of leadership. My next goal is to discuss the first of four universal promises of leadership.

The First Universal Promise

You will set the right direction and create meaningful work.

Each of us needs structure to live and lead effectively. Setting the right direction requires you to be clear on what your destination is. What story do you want your life and your life’s work to tell? Is it a story worth telling? Will it inspire other people to want to go with you? What will it take to get there? How and where do you start?

Clarity Will Transform You

The structure of destination and meaning comes from your vision, mission and values. Your vision is critical to communicate a clear picture of your destination. Your mission is critical to understanding what you must overcome and connecting each person’s role to it. Values guide us from deep within.

The process of clarifying your vision, mission and values sets into motion self and organizational transformation.

Your vision transforms you into an Inspiration Maker.

Your mission transforms you into a Meaning Maker.

Your values transform you into a Behavior Maker.

Vision is the inspiration maker for the organization. It is the destination that the organization is traveling to. Jason Bourne’s vision was to get his identity back from the evil CIA unit that stole his identity. His mission was the very dangerous actions that he had to undertake in order to get rid of the bad guys and get to the truth.

Mission is the meaning maker for the organization…It is about the conflicts, barriers, and work that must be overcome to reach the destination. In a Nike commercial, the athletes are pushing their physical limits in training (Mission) to become a champion (Vision).

Values are the rules of behavior for everyone in the organization, including the leader. They are the boss. When anyone violates the values that they have agreed to, it becomes obvious to all. The leader makes himself/herself accountable to the team and asks for them to confront him/her if he/she violates them. Values are grounded in our most deeply held beliefs and often integrated to the framework of our faith.

In other words, vision-mission-values are for the benefit of the organization. And, yes, the leader must become them as well.

When your vision, mission and values saturate your organizational culture, you begin to enjoy the rewards of that effort. The shared mental model provides structure for thinking with one mind, speaking with one voice, and feeling with one heart. Your energy and effort are channeled into one powerful coherent force that is aligned at all levels and moving in the direction of your destination.

After Action Reviews

Here’s an example of how in my dental practice we routinely review whether we are on course to our destination in alignment with our values. Recently, in our morning huddle today, we did an After Action Review (ARR) of our performance as a team on the previous afternoon. It was a routinely busy day that got pushed in the last two hours with several important emergency appointments.

An AAR examines the performance of the entire team and asks key questions:

What did we intend to do?
What did we actually do?
What were the results?
What would we do next time?
Were our actions consistent with our values?

I started the discussion. Quickly, several key team members expressed their thoughts and emotions that our performance as a team did not produce the results that we want and were not consistent with “Who We Are” and “Who We Hope to Be” at our best. It was a difficult but very productive conversation…and I think essential to creating better future performance.

These kinds of conversations invite every team member to have a voice in the critical moments of how we perform as a team, which increases the meaning of their work and recognizes the value of their contributions. It also allows us to evaluate if our behavior and performance as a team is moving the practice in the direction of our vision. Clarity wins. These conversations clarify.

Until next week and Part 3

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About Author

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Edwin "Mac" McDonald DDS

Dr. Edwin A. McDonald III received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Economics from Midwestern State University. He earned his DDS degree from the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston. Dr. McDonald has completed extensive training in dental implant dentistry through the University of Florida Center for Implant Dentistry. He has also completed extensive aesthetic dentistry training through various programs including the Seattle Institute, The Pankey Institute and Spear Education. Mac is a general dentist in Plano Texas. His practice is focused on esthetic and restorative dentistry. He is a visiting faculty member at the Pankey Institute. Mac also lectures at meetings around the country and has been very active with both the Dallas County Dental Association and the Texas Dental Association. Currently, he is a student in the Naveen Jindal School of Business at the University of Texas at Dallas pursuing a graduate certificate in Executive and Professional Coaching. With Dr. Joel Small, he is co-founder of Line of Sight Coaching, dedicated to helping healthcare professionals develop leadership and coaching skills that improve the effectiveness, morale and productivity of their teams.

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Happiness Is a Warm Puppy

August 30, 2019 Barry F. Polansky, DMD

When dentists are asked to use their imaginations to create a vision of the future, they usually see themselves as achieving their dreams, becoming successful and living the happy American dream. Using our imagination gives us a sense of control over our lives. I myself used the term “master of my own destiny” as my battle cry to create my practice philosophy. Was I accurate? Well, not to the degree I thought I would be. The old saying, “Man plans, and God laughs,” applies.

At the start of my career, I didn’t realize the effect that technology, the economy, advertising, and insurance would have on my plans. My definition of success at the start included words like accomplishment and achievement of a worthy goal. I learned the sense of well-being was to become an integral part of this.

Over four decades of practice, I learned that in order to live a life well-lived, certain components would be required. I could not have survived forty years if I had to go to work every day without the ingredients of a happy life.

The Ingredients of a Happy Life

The positive psychologists tell us that our well-being is dependent on five components. Dr. Martin Seligman, from the University of Pennsylvania, uses the acronym PERMA to describe these five.

P – Positive Emotion. For us to experience well-being, we need positive emotion in our lives. Any positive emotion such as peace, gratitude, satisfaction, pleasure, inspiration, hope, curiosity, or love falls into this category – and the message is that it’s really important to enjoy yourself in the here and now as long as the other elements of PERMA are in place.

E – Engagement. When we’re truly engaged in a situation, task, or project, we experience a state of flow. Time seems to stop, we lose our sense of self, and we concentrate intensely on the present. This feels really good! The more we experience this type of engagement, the more likely we are to experience well-being.

R – Positive Relations. As humans, we are “social beings,” and good relationships are core to our well-being. Time and again, we see that people who have meaningful, positive relationships with others are happier than those who do not. Relationships really do matter!

M – Meaning. Meaning comes from serving a cause bigger than ourselves. We all need meaning in our lives to have a sense of well-being. We need to create our own meaning with a sense of intent and purposefully design our own lives and practices accordingly.

A – Accomplishment/Achievement. Many of us strive to better ourselves in some way, whether we’re seeking to master a skill, achieve a valuable goal, or win in some competitive event. Flourishing in this way adds to the sense of wellness.

Happiness Is Subjective

All of the components together can be measured and hold the key to our well-being. Happiness, however, is about semantics. It’s about a subjective feeling.

Aristotle said it is “an expression of the soul in considered actions.” He called those actions virtues and said one could only measure the degree of happiness in a person’s life at the end of one’s life.

Freud said happiness can be found in lieben und arbiten—to love and to work.

And, Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts cartoon said, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” In truth, we cannot completely describe happiness, but we all know when we are happy.

Because the state of happiness is a present tense phenomenon, I have chosen what will make us happy in the future by what makes us happy now. That is why I have chosen Martin Seligman’s definition of well-being as defined by PERMA as a guide to a sustainable career and a life well lived. All of the PERMA components of well-being — positive emotions, engaging work, positive relationships, meaningful work and achievement, can be built into our practices.

Why Is Happiness Like a Warm Puppy?

Having an experience or two a day of true connection with patients can make all the difference in being satisfied at work. This simple definition of happiness is a good way to measure how you are feeling about your chosen career and practice life, because, if in the present of your everyday practice life, you feel moments of warmth (like holding a warm puppy), you will hold up well against the difficult moments, and you will have a rewarding career in dentistry.

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Barry F. Polansky, DMD

Dr. Polansky has delivered comprehensive cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and implant dentistry for more than 35 years. He was born in the Bronx, New York in January 1948. The doctor graduated from Queens College in 1969 and received his DMD degree in 1973 from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Following graduation, Dr. Polansky spent two years in the US Army Dental Corps, stationed at Fort. Dix, New Jersey. In 1975, Dr. Polansky entered private practice in Medford Lakes. Three years later, he built his second practice in the town in which he now lives, Cherry Hill. Dr. Polansky wrote his first article for Dental Economics in 1995 – it was the cover article. Since that time Dr. Polansky has earned a reputation as one of dentistry's best authors and dental philosophers. He has written for many industry publications, including Dental Economics, Dentistry Today, Dental Practice and Finance, and Independent Dentistry (a UK publication).

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The Quest for Meaning Part 2

August 23, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

Viktor Frankl believed the key to the successful creation of a happy and successful life was to aim toward a deeply significant and meaningful life purpose. On this, he commonly referenced Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote, “He who has a Why to live for can tolerate with almost any How.” Suffering is no fun, but suffering for a deeply significant purpose becomes much more tolerable when you know that the end will justify the means.

Loving Others

On love, Frankl said, “Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of their personality. No one can become fully aware of every essence of another person unless they truly love them, because by love we are enabled to see the essential traits and features in the other person; and even more importantly, see that which is potential in them—that which is not yet actualized, but ought to be actualized.” So, this begs yet another challenging question: Do we love our patients enough to suffer with them, as well as help them to become more of what they are capable of becoming through our collaborative work in dentistry?

Finding Courage in the Face of Adversity

The practice of true relationship-based / health-centered dentistry represents a counter-cultural decision with regard to mainstream thinking and behavior, as corporate dentistry is rapidly moving the profession in the exact opposite direction. Consequently, dedicating oneself to a truly patient-centered philosophy requires courage, commitment, and perseverance. Additionally, one is likely to experience tepid local support for it, as most peers will be following a very different philosophy – a philosophy focused on what they want or need to get out of dentistry, and not what life expects of them. Regardless, the striving for a cause greater than oneself, allows us to experience more meaning in a month than most corporate dentists find over their entire career.

Regarding Success

Regarding the achievement of material success, Frankl wrote, “Don’t aim for it, because the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself, or as a by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself.”

Personal Meaning

As you can see, meaning and personal relevance can’t be bought, copied, or transferred. Rather, it’s an inside-out process which must be discovered within ourselves and then refined over time. If this is the kind of challenging, growth-oriented journey which motivates and inspires you, then The Pankey Institute represents the very best place to both begin it, as well as nurture it all along the way.

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Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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The Quest for Meaning Part 1

August 19, 2019 Paul Henny DDS

Viktor Frankl wrote his famous memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning, over a period of nine days in 1946, and it has become an indispensable meditation on the wisdom Frankl gleaned from his gruesome experience at Auschwitz. The horrific circumstances he faced – circumstances which caused many others to surrender their very will to live, caused Frankl to focus his energy on a pursuit of meaning. He sought to find a deep sense of personal relevance in the face of incomprehensible evil, helplessness, and hopelessness. This, in turn, led him to discover personal relevance could be found through the cultivation of:

· Purposeful work

· Developing a clarified, values-driven Vision and Goals

· The intentional loving of others

· Courage when confronted by extreme challenges

· Choosing not pursue material success, and instead, focus on allowing it to ensue

As we advance toward and through our purposeful work, as well as through loving others, we will inevitably be confronted by circumstances which require tremendous courage and perseverance. Frankl felt these situations – these periods of courageous suffering were key to our ability to progressively discover the deeper meanings to life and to positively change as a result of new realizations and perspectives. On this, Frankl commented, “Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete.”

What Does Life Expect of Us?

During his time in Auschwitz, Frankl fundamentally changed his perspective toward living, as he observed that what he wanted from life didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Rather, what truly mattered was: What did life expect of him, and could he live up to it all, in spite of the horrible circumstances which surrounded him each and every day?

Purposeful Work

Trying to apply Viktor Frankl’s other-centric philosophy today requires us to turn the current egocentric culture on its head, as implementation begs even more potentially life-changing questions such as:

· Why am I here?

· What have I been called to do?

· How can I make sure I will be able to achieve it?

By sincerely answering these questions, it’s my hope you will discover, like Frankl, that your work in dentistry isn’t just about what you want from life; rather it’s about much more. It’s about a “calling” driven by your desire to significantly help others.

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About Author

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Paul Henny DDS

Dr. Paul Henny maintains an esthetically-focused restorative practice in Roanoke, Virginia. Additionally, he has been a national speaker in dentistry, a visiting faculty member of the Pankey Institute, and visiting lecturer at the Jefferson College or Health Sciences. Dr. Henny has been a member of the Roanoke Valley Dental Society, The Academy of General Dentistry, The American College of Oral Implantology, The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the International Congress of Oral Implantology. He is Past President and co-founder of the Robert F. Barkley Dental Study Club.

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